Sunday, August 21, 2016


Sounds from California

By Jimmy Kelly

As a boy growing up in Buffalo, NY, I watched on TV as the Buffalo Bills played the San Diego Chargers in a very sunny place called Balboa Stadium (in January!).  With four feet of snow outside, I wondered, “Where is that place?”  The first time I heard “California Dreamin’,” I was going to college in Vermont.  I finally realized the Beach Boys were right - California was this magical place where people wore t-shirts in winter; lived under sunny blue skies all the time; everyone had blond hair; summer was endless; and everybody surfed instead of going to high school.  It may have taken me a while to get to California but that music sure kept me on the border.
Oh that music.  Songs about beaches.  The Pacific Ocean.  Girls.  Hot rods, woodies and Cadillacs.  Beach parties.  The sun and fun.  What freezing red blooded American kid worth his weight in sand could miss that calling?  California was no Fantasyland.  It was the real deal.  Teenagers never died there.  The California sound kept ‘em surfing, smiling, singing along, and not worrying, baby.  Taking it easy.  Forever tan.  Victims of Love, Mike.

But my life changed and so did the sounds coming from California.  I was drafted into the Army and Vietnam was calling.  An invasion was underway.  The California Sound never liked Vietnam.  It did not like soldiers dying.  It did not know what we were fighting for.  It did not like politics or politicians who wanted us there.  Ask Joan Baez.  And it wanted us to wear flowers in our hair.  California Sound became free speech with harmony.  Peaceful and easy.  It was a revolution of music, culture and minds.  All were taken to a new and altered state. 
Once out of the Army, and living life in the 70’s, California Sound got serious.  Creedence.  Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.  Eagles.  Jackson Browne.  Grateful Dead.  This was not for adolescents. This was adult stuff.  Life in the fast lane.  Or was it still peaceful and easy?  I could not keep up.  But thank God our favorite old troubadours kept troubadouring.  California was keeping its promises.

Then, the 80’s rolled into town like thunder, and the times, they were a changin’ again.  Sure, some of our heroes stuck around – but it was slim pickin’ on the branches of the California Sound tree.  So we reached out to Jimmy Buffett, James Taylor, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Carol King and Bruce Springsteen to stay alive.  Where did all those flowers, acoustic guitars and protest lyrics go?  And why were boys and girls wearing spandex trousers up on those same stages?  I sure can’t tell you why.
Then in the 90’s the worst thing of all happened.  I turned into my father.  Here is the proof.  I uttered the following statements:  “When did music get so loud?”  “I can’t understand a word of that song.”  “Can’t they turn down the bass?”  My father used to say those same things about…California Sound.  This couldn’t be happening.  Music requires an open mind.  But disco, rap and lip sync at the beach?  C’mon man.  Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man, what happened?


Then I finally landed on the sea shores of old San Diego.  Any my first discovery?  California Sound.  Any evening or weekend, you could travel to bars in the Gaslamp, North Park, East Village, OB, PB, IB, and Chula Vista or take a trip out to the Casinos, and there it was.  I’m talking Gary Seiler, Jerry Gontang, Joe Rathburn, Taylor Harvey, Rob Mehl, Eve Selis, and John Bowe.  Buffed Out, Coco Loco, Stars on the Water, and Coast Riders.  Occasional visits from Jim Morris, Sunny Jim, Mark Mulligan, and Hugo Duarte.  Add Tim Flannery to the list.  Even the great architect of California Sound, Jack Tempchin, was living in America’s Finest City.  Ladies and gentlemen, we were right back where we started from.  Eagles.  CSN&Y, and…drum roll please…Beach Boys.  Even some Buffett, Beatles, Alan Jackson, Don McLean, Mamas & Papas, CCR, and Billy Joel.  Hey it’s good to be back home again.
I’m older than that now.  No longer the new kid in town.  I still hear Elvis, Ricky, Janis, Jimi, and Mama Cass in the background.  The hotel is still here, but Glenn Frey is not.  Uncle John’s band misses its leader.  Balboa Stadium is now a high school track.  America’s oldest teenager passed on.  Prince is gone.  David Bowie is gone.  I just don’t know about Brian Wilson anymore.  Some of the mothers and fathers who invented the California Sound have sailed on.  But I still head for the Southern California beach bars to hear them all again.  And again. 
And, dear friends and neighbors I have more good news.  Every song ever recorded has been “digitized.”  Our creators, makers and synthesizers have rightly, some wrongly, preserved forever California music.  Just a few strokes away on the keyboards of our devices.  And our devices are many.  So whenever the urge to hear All Summer Long, Cherish, Young Girl, or Happy Together strikes – just drop out with wireless headphones, tune in to Pandora, and turn on the Eagles channel.  Still the same old girls, flowers and songs they used to be.  Rock on.  (Gently.)
            If you want to dive in and explore more about San Diego’s musical past and present, contact Marc and Darlynne at Where You Want To Be. It is all happening in sunny San Diego.  You’ll be glad all over.  I wish you peace. 

Editors Note- Jim Kelly lives in Florida with his wife Val. 
(Some information for this article provided by Gary Seiler.)

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The album covers from California based bands in the 60s and 70s
are art that hits on a nerve for everyone. My nephew is 21 and his generation is also
helping keep the California Sound alive. Our new writer, for Off the Beaten Path,
Jimmy Kelly reflects on his memories seeing the San Diego Chargers playing in 70 degree conditions
in the dead of Winter, while growing up in Buffalo.  Look for his story real soon. In the mean time,
What are album covers and music you associate with California? Send in images and 99 words or less
by August 16 and be entered to win 2 Tickets to the Amazing California Sound Super Challenge.
Below are a few of favorite tributes to California...




Monday, May 9, 2016


Talkin’ Walkin’ in San Diego.

By Jimmy Kelly

For over ten years, early each Friday morning, I met a friend or two, and walked 12 miles through beautiful sunny San Diego.  Most walks began near the statue of Kate Sessions, at the Sixth Avenue entrance to Balboa Park.  And each week a new adventure began as we traveled over the Prado Bridge into the park.  Gardens, statues, structures, museums, and fountains became close friends.  Hills, trails and canyons all had identities. 
From Balboa Park, on to the world famous San Diego Zoo.  With annual passes, we often included the entire zoo on these walks (highly recommended).  Not only are the animals entertaining, but the hills of the zoo are great additions to a training walk. 


From the zoo, we’d travel to the north end of the park, follow the hilly trail across the 1946-built Bubba’s Bridge, (crossing over 163), up Cheney Hill, and to Banker’s Hill.  In this area, there are two historic walking bridges over canyons that must be experienced – not far from each other.  On the Maple Canyon Bridge, the “Rock Game” was invented.  Walkers selected five small rocks from the side of the street, and from atop the bridge, attempted to drop their rocks into a trash can, far below.  Since that time, the trash can has been removed and Where You Want to Be Tours has created a new version of the Rock Game.  Then, down Mission Hills, past the airport to the harbor.  A left on Harbor Drive and it was time to experience the Star of India and the ever-changing art work, vendors, cruise ships, and foreign vessels.

Then it was time for the Midway and the wooden platform walkway.  As we’d walk into Seaport Village, the fishing boats were usually unloading their catches and we’d watch massive amounts of fresh fish prepared for markets and restaurants.  Seaport village, its marina and the Embarcadero were always calm and quiet at that early hour. 


Over the years we viewed the convention center expansion; building (and delay) of Petco Park; construction of several new hotels and restaurants; and retailers would come and go.  We experienced downtown San Diego’s preparedness for two Super Bowls and one World Series.  Over the years we were invited by construction managers to tour their new facilities; interviewed live on the morning news; and we knew the location of all clean rest rooms in downtown San Diego (Marriott, Horton Grand, Hard Rock and Hilton get five stars). 
Our next points of interest were the Gaslamp; Horton Plaza; and the rest of downtown San Diego.  Then, we’d begin the long trek up Fifth or Sixth Avenue, back to the park.  We also saw the El Cortez Hotel transitioned from dilapidation to its present state of beauty.  For several years, the Spice House on Ninth Avenue, just south of the park served us breakfast – but even that was torn down and replaced with a condominium building.


This particular route served as our training course for the 2004 Rock n Roll Marathon.  With a few additions, such as Harbor Island and Shelter Island, it’s easily extended for more miles.  Whether a walk or run, regardless of the distance or pace, there are so many points (and people) of interest and enjoyment, the time quickly passes.  Upcoming articles will highlight a few of our stops.

Every time I return to San Diego, I must walk this course.  Each step is filled with great memories, and many new additions always await their discovery.  For updates, maps, details and shorter tours, contact Marc and Darlynne.  Anyway you do it, walking in San Diego is a fine adventure.
Editors Note- Jimmy encouraged Marc Menkin to come along on one of these Friday walks in 2002, one year prior to the start of Where You Want To Be Tours. The passion for power walks around Balboa Park and downtown is a big part of what led to the start of the business. Jimmy also was a huge baseball fan and showed us where home plate would be and numerous other quirky and colorful sights in the East Village area, prior to Petco Park being opening in 2004!

              Jimmy and Marc are pictured above. Jimmy now lives in Florida with his wife Val.  

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Celebrate the Holidays - San Diego Style!

Now that the holiday season is officially here, there's all sorts of fun things happening in San Diego.  From Christmas parades to holiday light shows and Christmas plays, America's Finest City has it all. And the best part? Many of these activities are free OR don't even cost that much! For the next month, we'll be highlighting some of our favorite "must see" holiday events so be sure to check out this blog, as well as our Facebook Page as we'll be posting fun videos showcasing some unique spots and events! 

In the meantime, here's a couple of fun things worth checking out - 

1. Fantasy on Ice:  Every year, people would flock to Horton Plaza but now, this popular ice rink has a new location! It's located at Liberty Station in Point Loma, from November 2015 through January 2016.  This is the rink's first season at this location, and the hours will be from 10am to 10pm.  Great way to kick off the holiday season!


2. Surfin Santa Arrival: Talk about a great way to get into the holiday season!  So Cal's favorite Surfin Santa is back... and it's all part of the 10th Annual Surfin Santa Celebration at Seaport Village. Free photos, a cool parade, street performers, kids crafts and lots of holiday deals will all happen on November 28th.   Great family event but don't take our word, check it out for yourself!


3. San Diego Botanic Garden: If you love Christmas lights, pack up the kids and check out the Garden of Lights at the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas. This event has a one-of-a-kind, quaint feel and features everything from marshmallow roasting, snow sledding and horse drawn wagon rides. Now that sounds cool!  The Garden is open now but the "Garden of Lights" runs from December 5-23 and 26-30.  


Here's wishing you all a FANTASTIC holiday season. We're looking forward to sharing more of our favorite holiday happenings with you.  See you next time!

 
Happy Travels!

Marc & Darlynne Menkin
Where You Want To Be Tours Inc.
619.917.6037
www.wheretours.com


Marc & Darlynne Menkin are the co-owners of Where You Want To Be Tours, a San Diego based company that specializes in fun team building Urban Challenge Scavenger Hunts and unique tours of hidden spots. Earlier this year, they merged with Out of the Ordinary Group & Team Adventures, an Award Winning Company that's known for offering customized team building programs like Survivor Team Challenge, Team Cooking Challenges, Sailing Regattas and much more!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Healing Power of Silent Walking

It's a fact that all our friends know.  If you're going to hang with us, wear sneakers and be ready to walk!  While it's true we both love to walk, Marc is the one who really enjoys wandering around and getting lost in his thoughts. As a matter of fact, that's probably when he gets most of his creative ideas for our team building adventures. (I'm pretty sure he came up with the entire route for our Gaslamp Scavenger Hunt during a walk in La Jolla!)  For him, a walk along the beach is pure heaven and it always unlocks his mind and creative spirit.  So, it only seemed natural that when our good friend Lee Ann Kim told us how she likes to take silent walks with her staff, Marc was totally onboard. 

                                        (Marc enjoying the day on a recent walk in La Jolla)

Apparently, there's a whole new movement of people who enjoy doing these "silent walks." The concept is pretty simple -  you go on a walk with a group of people but you don't talk...at all. You just walk in silence - allowing your mind and body to relax and unwind.  In Lee Ann's case, they even take off their shoes so they can connect to Mother Nature.   Studies show that walking barefoot, also known as "earthing" has a number of health benefits such as reducing inflammation and improving sleep.  Who knew?

Of course, if you're like some people, you may be wondering -  "why not just walk alone if you want silence?"   Well, you could do that but walking by yourself is a totally different experience than walking with a group.

                                      (Taking in the sights & sounds on a walk in Point Loma)
                                      
From a safety point of view, some people may not want to walk alone OR maybe they don't want to be by themselves for an extended period of time. Walking in silence in a group provides solitude but there's a connection between the group members even though they're not talking.  Although I've never really thought about it, I do take in more when I'm on a walk and not talking.  I'm more likely  to notice how wonderful the sun feels or how peaceful the waves sound as they crash along the rocks. 

The next time you're feeling tired or a little stressed, maybe you should get a bunch of friends or co-workers together and go on a "silent walk."   See you at the beach!

Happy Travels!
Darlynne & Marc Menkin
Where You Want To Be Tours, Inc.
619.917.6037
www.wheretours.com


Marc & Darlynne Menkin are the co-owners of Where You Want To Be Tours, a San Diego based company that specializes in fun team building Urban Challenge Scavenger Hunts and unique tours of hidden spots. Earlier this year, they merged with Out of the Ordinary Group & Team Adventures, an Award Winning Company that's known for offering customized team building programs like Survivor Team Challenge, Sailing Regattas and much more!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Another weekend in Paradise

The other day we were looking at our calendar and we couldn't believe what we saw. In just a few days, it will be October.  How did that happen and where did the summer go?  But the good thing about living here in San Diego... summer never really goes away.   Sure, the kids are back in school and the days aren't quite as long but the weather is still awesome and the beaches aren't as crowded. Now that's something worth cheering for! 

This past weekend was just another example of why we love living here. The weather was epic and there was a lot going on in our town.  Actually, we didn't have to go that far from our house to have a good time.  At Windansea Beach in La Jolla, it was a perfect beach weekend.  We took our usual beach walk and saw an awesome sunset, people enjoying life and ah yes, a surprise marriage proposal right on the beach.



Later that night, we saw the most amazing moon. Of course, the next night was the Supermoon Lunar Eclipse that had everyone talking.


On Sunday, we headed to the Pacific Islander Festival at Mission Bay and as always, that was a treat.  If you've never checked out this festival, make it a point to see it the next time. Between the smell of plate lunches and the sights and sounds of beautiful dancing wahines... it always puts us in the mood to go back to Hawaii.



We're optimistic that we will be visiting Hawaii soon but for now, we're content to stay right here in San Diego.  We wouldn't have it any other way!



Happy Travels!

Marc & Darlynne Menkin
Where You Want To Be Tours, Inc.
619.917.6037
www.wheretours.com